Bavarian Icefest, Leavenworth, Washington
Washington's Bavarian-inspired village of Leavenworth keeps the holiday spirit alive into mid-January. With a backdrop of a half-million twinkling lights strung across the postcard-cute downtown, festival goers can take in snow sculptures, live ice carving, and a snowmobile sled pull in addition to joining in on ice fishing, snow shoeing, and a snowball toss. Don’t forget about the fireworks finale at 6 p.m. on the 19th.
Bear Lake Monster Winterfest, Garden City, Utah
The beauty of this festival is its colorful origin story, unique to the area. The Cisco Disco was born in the ‘80s when a handful of fishermen, gathered early in the morning in late January to catch native Bonneville Cisco, decided to fry up a few of the sardine-like fish instead of using them for bait. Community leaders built on this obscure event by adding a night-before kickoff party (with karaoke, a kid’s movie, a hot chocolate bar, and other family-friendly fun); indoor and outdoor winter sports expos; a post-Cisco chili cook-off; and a plunge into the freezing lake. Just watch out for the Loch Ness-like “monster” that local legend proclaims still swims in Bear Lake.
Fire & Ice Winterfest, Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
This southeast Idaho resort town celebrates its signature attraction—natural spring-fed hot pools—with the finale of its annual 3-day festival. During the Running of the Bulls, participants brave the winter elements by running down Main Street from one hot spring pool to another in just a bathing suit and sandals. Other on-theme attractions for one of the region’s quirkier festivals: fire performers and a torch light parade, an ice-catapult contest, and a costumed polar float down the icy Portneuf river.
Whitefish Winter Carnival, Whitefish, Montana
This sleepy ski town comes alive each winter to celebrate the lore of Ullr, the God of Snow. Whitefish Winter Carnival events include a torchlight parade at the ski resort, a Main Street parade, fireworks, a penguin plunge (a hole is cut into Whitefish Lake and participants take a dip for charity), and even the World Championships of skijoring, a competition in which skiers are pulled behind racing horses.